Affordable homes, shorter commutes see people move to smaller cities

A slower lifestyle and cleaner air are among the reasons to move away from metropolises, as employment and business opportunities grow too.

Updated: Sep 27, 2017 18:12:20

By Dipanjan Sinha

Ahmedabad (above), Jaipur and Coimbatore are among the cities that have witnessed significant real-estate growth in recent years. (iStock)

There’s another side to the non-metro growth story. As markets within the Mumbai Metropolitan Region expand, stories are emerging of people moving from the megalopolis to distant cities that are very unlike it — driven not just by price points but by the idea of a slower, less bustling way of life.

Software designer Abhishek Jagtap, 29, for instance, lived with his family in Kalyan for 10 years. Then he graduated, for a job with an IT company in Powai, and realised he would have to move. The commute from Kalyan was just too long and painful.

In 2012, he decided to rent in Kanjurmarg while searching for a home in areas such as Chembur, Ghatkopar and Vikhroli.

Traffic was so bad between his new home and his office that he saved only 20 minutes in commuting time, and he was now paying 40% of his salary in rent.

“Buying a house in the city just did not seem feasible either. A one-bedroom apartment was over Rs 90 lakh,” he says. “The only homes I could afford were back in Kalyan.”

A year later, Jagtap bought a house in Nashik. “It worked out well in that I got an opportunity in Nashik from another IT company. Though I did not want to leave Mumbai, I have realised that it made sense to settle here with an easier life,” he says.

His 2BHK in Nashik city cost him Rs 39 lakh; his home is 15 minutes from his office.

“I have more free time than when he lived in Mumbai, but,” he admits, “I do miss the buzz and I miss my friends. You could hang out in Mumbai at any time; Nashik goes to sleep by 10 pm.”


Builders too are looking to focus more on Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities. “Rising demand and comparatively low penetration in these areas means that competition is not as severe as in the largest metros,” says Amit Wadhwani, director of real-estate consultancy, SAI. “Many of these cities are also seeing significant infrastructure development, bringing the promise of even greater appreciation. ”

Anirudh Mukherjee, who shifted from Gurgaon to Kanha in Madhya Pradesh, says he doesn’t even miss his metro life. A wildlife enthusiast, Mukherjee runs a travel company and homestay after spending two decades working as a journalist.

“As long as my children were studying, we could not make the move but now they have gone their own way,” he says.

Mukherjee has a fairly long list of reasons for his shift, which include a slower pace of life and living on a 12-acre plot he bought in stages, with prices ranging from Rs 50,000 to Rs 1 lakh per acre. There are intangibles too, he adds, like clean air.

The metros are under accumulated pressure from major migration trends of the last two decades,” says Shubika Bilkha, business head of the Real Estate Management Institute (REMI).

“There is an urgent need to manage this growing population and develop centres across the country that provide equal employment, educational and lifestyle opportunities. Some Tier II and Tier III cities across the country have witnessed such growth and are presenting themselves as viable alternatives. Job opportunities are also on the rise too. The growth of the startup ecosystem will continue to create added opportunities for job seekers across some of these markets,” she says. “Ahmedabad, Jaipur, Vadodara, Coimbatore and Visakhapatnam are among the cities that have witnessed the highest growth in terms of the real-estate market, over the last few years.”

Builders agree and point out that they are now focusing on Tier 2 cities in a big way.

“Home buyers who are pricesensitive choose to enter Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities for property purchase as they cannot afford the higher price brackets of metros now,” says Aniket Haware, managing director of Haware Builders. “Even if home buyers invest in outskirts of Mumbai like Thane or Navi Mumbai, they have to face congestion, traffic and a minimum two-hour commute. In this scenario, demand in the smaller cities looks set to surely rise.”

First Published: Sep 27, 2017 18:12:20


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